Nats sweep away Marlins
WASHINGTON—After Stephen Strasburg failed to get out of the fifth inning in his second start this season, he had a little chat with Nationals’ teammate Ian Desmond about changing his approach on the mound.
“It was just: I don’t need to go out there and trick guys, and I don’t need to go out there and be perfect,” Strasburg recalled.
Consider it done. In his third—and by far the best—outing of 2014, Strasburg struck out 12 in 6 2/3 innings on a day Washington really needed to rest its relievers.
Meanwhile, Desmond and Jayson Werth homered, leading the Nationals past the Miami Marlins 7-1 yesterday for a three-game sweep.
“We actually talked after his last start, and he told me some things that he wanted to work on,” said Desmond, whose grand slam off reliever Arquimedes Caminero in the eighth broke open a tight game.
“And to see him go out and execute it today, exactly the way he wanted to change and what he was going to mess with, was pretty good to see.”
The 25-year-old Strasburg (1-1) got 14-consecutive outs in one stretch and allowed only three hits, including Marcell Ozuna’s homer in the seventh.
The right-hander’s lone walk was to the last batter he faced.
Washington’s starter on Wednesday, Jordan Zimmermann, left after a career-low 1 2/3 innings—leaving the bullpen “taxed,” as manager Matt Williams put it.
The Nationals won that game 10-7 on Werth’s go-ahead grand slam in the eighth, and this time he connected in the third—a two-run shot off Tom Koehler (1-1) that put Washington up 2-0.
After driving in a total of one run over the season’s first seven games, Werth now has seven RBIs in the past two.
“Got the green light from ‘Matty,’” Werth said, referring to the manager.
“Got a pitch up that was elevated and put a good swing on it.”
“Got to do a better job of . . . executing,” said Koehler.
Strasburg lasted 4 1/3 innings in his previous start—a 6-2 loss to Atlanta on Saturday—and he entered yesterday 0-1 with a 6.10 ERA.
But with the temperature 67 degrees F at the unusual 4:05 p.m. start, and shadows creeping across the diamond, he was much better against Miami—mixing a 95-96 m.p.h. fastball with a seemingly unhittable change-up.
“You have to be in swing mode, expecting fastball, certainly,” Williams noted.
“His change-up was really good off of it today and he used it a lot.”
Some Marlins’ hitters did say the shadows were problematic.
“It was kind of tough to see out there,” said Derek Dietrich, who was 0-for-3.
Elsewhere in the NL, Pittsburgh nipped Chicago 5-4, Milwaukee beat Philadelphia 6-2, the N.Y. Mets downed Atlanta 6-4, and Arizona topped San Francisco 6-5 (10 innings).